Residents in British areas hit by new South African strain of Covid tell of their concerns


WHERE IS DOOR-TO-DOOR TESTING BEING OFFERED?

London

W7: Hanwell

N17: Tottenham

CR4: Mitcham

West Midlands

WS2: Walsall

East of England

EN10: Broxbourne

South East 

ME15: Maidstone

GU21: Woking

North West

PR9: Southport 

Residents in areas hit by the new South African strain of coronavirus have shared their fears it will ‘mess everything up’.

Door-to-door coronavirus testing is being launched across eight parts of England where it is feared the new variant is spreading in the community.

In a desperate attempt to keep track of the mutated virus that experts fear could hamper the current crop of vaccines, health officials will join forces with local police, councillors and firefighters to visit homes in several areas across England. 

Now, residents in those areas have reacted to the spread of the variant. 

Grandmother Pam Fuller, 77, said: ‘I am due my vaccine soon so this is the last thing I need.

‘I’m scared this will mess everything up. But I will take the test as it’s best to know.

‘I can’t believe we’ve got a South African strain in Southport.

‘Everyone goes to Spain on holiday not there.’ 

Handyman Martin Jones, 34, said: ‘I haven’t been to South Africa and don’t know anyone who has so I won’t be getting a test.

‘I want the vaccine not more tests so we can finally see the end of this.

‘It’s just one thing after another.

‘It sounds like they are making it up as they go along.’

Local volunteers also claim that some elderly residents might not allow government workers to test them, as they are worried about being targeted by scammers.

Sonal Sher, 44, who runs a local Covid-19 volunteer group in Woking, said:  

‘There are a lot of elderly people who will be worried if the people knocking on their doors are safe, so we wanted to make sure that people know the volunteers coming to test them are genuine.’ 

In Hanwell, west London, local resident Nicky Parmar said: ‘It’s very worrying that the South African strain has been identified in our area.

‘The council should be going door to door to test because there might be some people who might not know about it. It’s good that they’re acting quickly but they have to make sure we’re all tested.’

Hanwell resident Joseph Griffin said: ‘I’ll be coming on Thursday for a test. We don’t know who the person who tested positive for the strain is but he could have been going all over the area.

A woman takes a swab test in Goldsworth Park, as the South African variant of the novel coronavirus is reported in parts of Surrey, in Woking

A woman takes a swab test in Goldsworth Park, as the South African variant of the novel coronavirus is reported in parts of Surrey, in Woking

People arrive at a Covid-19 test centre in Southport, Merseyside this afternoon. Southport is one of eight areas in England about to start urgent testing for the South Africa variant of coronavirus

People arrive at a Covid-19 test centre in Southport, Merseyside this afternoon. Southport is one of eight areas in England about to start urgent testing for the South Africa variant of coronavirus

‘Why aren’t the council testing everybody in the borough? They’re asking us to have a test but some people might not bother.’

Sue, a local teacher said: ‘We had an email from the council at the school where I work telling us about the South African strain and that we should have a test.

‘I got down here as quickly as I could but unfortunately the testing centre closes at 3pm. The council didn’t told us this but I’m very nervous about this latest development and will return to get tested. I’m also going to make sure that my family do too.’

In Woking, Surrey, a team of volunteers will hand deliver 9,000 PCR tests to homes from tomorrow and then collect them from doorsteps three hours later. 

A spokesman Woking Borough Council said: ‘Once the kits have been delivered the volunteers will return in about 3hours to collect them.’ 

Two cases of the South African coronavirus variant have been detected in Woking. 

Helen Futter, 57, who lives in Goldsworth Park, said she has never had a PCR test but will happily take part when she receives her package. 

She said: ‘Of course I will do the test. I think we will do anything that will help drive the virus away and we can get on with our lives. 

Covid test centre in Mitcham South London, one of the areas identified as having the new South Africa strain

Covid test centre in Mitcham South London, one of the areas identified as having the new South Africa strain

In a desperate attempt to keep track of the South African variant that experts fear could effect the current crop of vaccines, health officials will carry out swabs in Woking in Surrey, Walsall in the West Midlands, as well as parts of London, Kent, Hertfordshire and Lancashire

‘I’ve never had any symptoms so have not had to have a PCR test. I know friends who have had the virus and a neighbour who was a NHS porter died last year after being infected.’ 

Helen Sheldrake said: ‘It makes sense to take part in the testing. I heard about it on the news and there are just a couple of people in the area who have the strain,’ she said. 

‘I can’t see anyone turning down as we are all in this together and anything that can drive down the virus has to be a good thing.’

In Tottenham Hale, teams from Haringey Council began going door-to-door yesterday giving out home testing PCR kits to over-16s.

The PCR test – described as the ‘gold standard’ – is normally available only for people who have a new cough, a high temperature or a sudden loss of smell or taste.

In addition a Mobile Testing Unit (MTU) will open tomorrow at Tottenham Green Leisure Centre.

Positive cases will be subject to further analysis to see what strain they have.

A spokesperson said: ‘This will help to see how far – if at all – the South African variant has spread in the community.

‘Anyone who does test positive will immediately be able to make a self isolation payment of up to £500 to make up for any lost earnings.’

So far one household in the N17 postcode without foreign travel links has been identified as carrying the strain.

Members of the household have completed self-isolation.

Haringey’s Director of Public Health Dr Will Maimaris said: ‘Although we are in a national lockdown, you are still allowed out of your home for specific reasons including getting a test.’  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said tonight people in those areas must take ‘extra special precautions’ amid the threat of an outbreak of the new, highly-infectious variant. Speaking at tonight’s Downing Street press conference, he added: ‘The stay at home message is there for everyone but in particular in those areas it’s absolutely vital that people minimise all social contact and get a test when the opportunity arises. 

Surge testing kits for Covid-19 piled up in Woking fire station where Group Commander David Nolan (right) and Assistant Group Commander Tim Readings (left) are co-ordinating the roll out

Surge testing kits for Covid-19 piled up in Woking fire station where Group Commander David Nolan (right) and Assistant Group Commander Tim Readings (left) are co-ordinating the roll out

Public Health England has already spotted 105 cases of the 'B.1.351' South African variant since December 22

Public Health England has already spotted 105 cases of the ‘B.1.351’ South African variant since December 22

More than 80,000 over-16s will be targeted as part of the huge surveillance scheme and residents will be asked to take a test regardless of whether or not they have symptoms. Mr Hancock said it was ‘imperative’ that people in these areas stay at home and get a test when it is offered to them.

As well as knocking on doors and asking residents to take tests there and then, extra mobile swabbing units will be deployed to all eight postcodes and home testing kits will be available to order online for residents to do themselves.  

Public Health England has already spotted 105 cases of the ‘B.1.351’ South African variant since December 22, including at least 11 people — scattered across the eight areas receiving extra testing — who were struck down with the virus but had no history of international travel. 

Mr Hancock said ‘enhanced contact tracing’ had been carried out to isolate the 11 patients’ close contacts. There is currently no evidence that the variant causes more severe illness and early studies suggest the current crop of jabs are good enough to protect against it.

Experts fear there could be hundreds more cases already in the UK because PHE only analyses one in 10 random positive samples and the strain cannot be spotted in standard PCR tests. All of the swabs confirmed to have Covid will be sent to labs for further testing.

Revealed: The postcodes where health bosses will carry out door-to-door Covid tests

W7: Hanwell (EALING)

Hanwell is a middle of the road, middle class area in leafy West London, with a healthy mix of white and BAME residents. 

Some parts of the area have wide, tree-lined avenues and is quite sought after among young families. 

Hanwell has a growing population of youngish professionals, especially in the southern part, and a variety of bars and restaurants to serve them 

  • POPULATION: 29,000
  • BAME POPULATION: 60%
  • COVID CASES (TOTAL, PER 100,000 PEOPLE): 27,223 (7,964.5)
  • COVID DEATHS (TOTAL, PER 100,000 PEOPLE): 583 (170.6)
  • AB SOCIAL GRADE: 29%
  • AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE: £570,000
  • UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: 19%

N17: Tottenham (HARINGEY)

Tottenham is a densely built-up, multiracial district situated six miles north of the Tower of London. 

It is most famous for its Premier League football club which plays at white Hart Lane in the centre of the area. 

Tottenham is home to some of the least affluent households in northern London, which means that rents are very affable compared with the rest of the capital.

  • POPULATION: 64,000
  • BAME POPULATION: 80%
  • COVID CASES (TOTAL, PER 100,000 PEOPLE): 19,315 (7,189.7)
  • COVID DEATHS (TOTAL, PER 100,000 PEOPLE): 373 (138.8)
  • AB SOCIAL GRADE: 13%
  • AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE: £380,000
  • UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: 30%

CR4: Mitcham (CROYDON)

Originally a village in the county of Surrey, Mitcham is a culturally diverse area within the London Borough of Merton.  

Mitcham’s peaceful, semi-rural location attracts both retirees and families.

It is the home of Mitcham Cricket Club which is reportedly the oldest cricket ground still in use, having been used since 1685. 

  • POPULATION: 58,000
  • BAME POPULATION: 71%
  • COVID CASES (TOTAL, PER 100,000 PEOPLE): 28,326 (7,324.9)
  • COVID DEATHS (TOTAL, PER 100,000 PEOPLE): 685 (177.1)
  • AB SOCIAL GRADE: 17%
  • AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE: £385,000
  • UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: 22%

WS2: Walsall (WEST MIDLANDS)

Walsall has been majorly redeveloped and modernised since the 1970s and is still being constantly developed.

The market town is home to some of the most highly deprived neighbourhoods in the borough of Walsall.

Walsall is a culturally diverse town where people of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi background form the largest minority groups.

  • POPULATION: 39,000
  • BAME POPULATION: 35%
  • COVID CASES (TOTAL, PER 100,000 PEOPLE): 21,634 (7,578.2)
  • COVID DEATHS (TOTAL, PER 100,000 PEOPLE): 622 (217.9)
  • AB SOCIAL GRADE: 8%
  • AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE: £130,000
  • UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: 21%

EN10: Broxbourne (HERTFORDSHIRE)

The tranquil town was voted the most desirable commuter town by a survey by Hamptons International last year.

The area includes mostly semi detached and detached homes and the average house price is £417,000.

A train to Liverpool Street takes under half an hour. 

  • POPULATION: 17,000
  • BAME POPULATION: 14%
  • COVID CASES (TOTAL, PER 100,000 PEOPLE): 8,518 (8,756.3)
  • COVID DEATHS (TOTAL, PER 100,000 PEOPLE): 156 (160.4)
  • AB SOCIAL GRADE: 25%
  • AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE: £460,000
  • UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: 11%

ME15: Maidstone (KENT)

The historic town’s combination of rural riverside living and modern amenities make it a desirable place to live particularly for residents commuting to London. 

Maidstone is predominantly white and middle class. It lies 32 miles east-south-east of the capital. 

The River Medway runs through the centre of the town, linking it with Rochester and the Thames Estuary.

  • POPULATION: 48,000
  • BAME POPULATION: 11%
  • COVID CASES (TOTAL, PER 100,000 PEOPLE): 11,794 (6,863.9)
  • COVID DEATHS (TOTAL, PER 100,000 PEOPLE): 281 (163.5)
  • AB SOCIAL GRADE: 21%
  • AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE: £320,000
  • UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: 11%

GU21: Woking (SURREY)

The town of Woking in Surrey is predominantly white, middle class and is one of the main commuter towns in Surrey with residents having a 30 minute train journey into London.

The area includes mostly semi detached and detached homes. 

The main employer is the McLaren racing car group while one of its most famous residents was singer Paul Weller from The Jam pop group.

  • POPULATION: 4,200
  • BAME POPULATION: 26%
  • COVID CASES (TOTAL, PER 100,000 PEOPLE): 5,970 (5,923.0)
  • COVID DEATHS (TOTAL, PER 100,000 PEOPLE): 136 (134.9)
  • AB SOCIAL GRADE: 35%
  • AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE: £455,000
  • UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: 11%

PR9: Southport (SEFTON, MERSEYSIDE)

Southport is a former Victorian seaside town which has traditionally been seen as more upmarket than Blackpool down the coast.

Its MP is a Tory compared to most other seats in Merseyside which are mostly Labour.

Southport has some large Victorian villas however there are pockets of deprivation.

There is a Pontins holiday camp as well lots of other caravan parks.

  • POPULATION: 43,000
  • BAME POPULATION: 8%
  • COVID CASES (TOTAL, PER 100,000 PEOPLE): 21,268 (7,694.4)
  • COVID DEATHS (TOTAL, PER 100,000 PEOPLE): 593 (214.5)
  • AB SOCIAL GRADE: 19%
  • AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE: £190,000
  • UNEMPLOYMENT RATE: 10%

NOTES: Department of Health officials do not break down Covid cases or deaths by postcode, meaning the figures above are for the local authorities they belong to. 

Officials today insisted there would be 80,000 people who need to get tested across the eight postcodes – but only offered the simple postcodes. Other websites claim that the postcodes mentioned are home to around 300,000 people. 

AB social grade is the percentage of the population who are considered ‘white-collar’ middle-upper class.

Source: www.postcodearea.co.uk



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